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Greenbuild: Fedrizzi on sustainability, change and politics

3 min read


Ten thousand people from 86 countries have gathered for Greenbuild in Washington, D.C., this week where the theme is “monumental green.” And that was certainly hammered home by Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and one of the founders of the US Green Building Council during his plenary address.

First: Green, lots and lots of green

Some say LEED, USGBC’s is losing its allure, particularly as alternative rating systems for sustainably designed and built buildings proliferate, including the Living Building Challenge, Green Globes and others. Fedrizzi certainly wasn’t buying that, noting that LEED was the touchstone, the thing that led to the creation of other green building initiatives, such as the Green Building Certification Institute’s own Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies, or EDGE, program; USGBC’s stakeholder role in the Sustainable Sites Initiative  and  GREBS,  an organization driven by industry that tries to assess the “performance of real estate portfolios (public, private and direct) around the globe” and on whose board Fedrizzi sits.

Second: Monumental

Fedrizzi noted the extraordinary investment per capita in LEED buildings In Washington, D.C., and the USGBC reported 13.8 billion square feet of building space was LEED-certified as of Aug. 2015.

But beyond that monumental number, there are the monumental changes going on in USGBC itself. Beginning in 2016, the organization will have not just its Board of Directors as a leadership body but also an Advisory Council that “will recommend policy and initiatives to the Board” and “provide the visionary industry leadership and perspectives that have built [USGBC’s] authenticity, credibility and relevance.”

In addition, Fedrizzi will leave his position as CEO at the end of 2016, a position he likened to “leading a congregation of people” in his speech redolent with pastoral cadence.

Third: Politics

Fedrizzi noted that there are just 50 weeks and a few days until election day, exhorting attendees to “raise our collective voice louder than we have ever done before” and to espouse sustainability.

He also noted the importance of climate change as part of sustainability initiatives, castigating those Republican presidential candidates who deny climate change exists.

It was a political speech, a well-timed speech and resonated with much of the audience. It was certainly a speech that notices “there is work to be do” and that change is in the air – change that must be addressed for both viability and sustainability. One wonders whether it is for the organization, the world or both.

Ahead of us

Meanwhile, Architecture 2030 notes that an “area equal to a staggering 3.5 times the entire built environment of the U.S. will be redesigned, reshaped, and rebuilt globally” over the next two decades. Clearly, must find a way to keep doing it better and pushing beyond that, to get more efficient, to leave less of a carbon footprint.